Coveney will decide ‘who gets what’ in new CAP package

BY FRANCIS FARRAGHER

 THE ‘nuts and bolts’ of the CAP deal will only be worked out at national level over the course of the next six months, but Galway IFA Chairman, Michael Flynn, has warned that most farmers will be facing a reduction in their payments.

Although Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, has expressed his delight last week at getting the new deal agreed, the sharing out of the ‘Irish cake’ of €1.2 billion per year among 130,000 farmers – to be decided over the coming six to nine months – will be critical as regards farm income between now and 2019.

This week, Galway IFA Chairman, Michael Flynn, told the Farming Tribune that regardless of how the talks evolved at national level over the coming months, it was almost certain that the majority of farmers would have to take a reduction in their single payment.

“One thing we do want to ensure is that our Pillar 2 payments especially in DAS (Disadvantages Areas Scheme) are not alone maintained but restored to their pre-cut levels. These payments are an absolute lifeline for the smaller West of Ireland farmers,” said Mr. Flynn.

Fianna Fáil Agricultural Spokesman, Éamon Ó Cuív, told the Farming Tribune that the single most important thing that should happen over the coming months was for ‘an honest and completely open debate’ to take place on the options that now were available.

“We must face up to issues here honestly and address the situation whereby the top 2% of farmers end up getting 12% of the payments. The flexibility is there to ensure that we get a far fairer redistribution of payments that will benefit the vast majority of Irish farmers,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

He said that he wasn’t in favour of a clause limiting cuts to 30% across the board, as this meant a farmer on €200,000 worth of payments would end up still on a payment level of €140,000 per annum.

“We need to have a very factual appraisal in relation to looking at a maximum payment level of €650 per hectare and to the frontloading of payments for the first 50 hectares. This would have a positive impact on over 80% of Irish farms,” said Deputy Ó Cuív.

Galway IFA Chairman, Michael Flynn, who attended a day long IFA National Council meeting in Dublin on Tuesday dealing with the new CAP, said that there was no getting away from the fact that there was a serious payment reduction element to the new deal.

“Here in the West of Ireland we would strongly support the provision of a strong coupled element to the CAP for our farmers. Over recent weeks and months, we have all seen the huge sell-off of suckler cows while the ewe flock has also suffered a decline – if we don’t protect the farmers at the basic building block stage of the production cycle, then the whole industry will be under threat,” said Michael Flynn.

He said that he was also worried about increasing payment levels for non-productive farmers and added that this should be looked at in the context of the mid-term CAP review due in 2017.

“If the European taxpayers see a situation developing whereby they are subsidising ‘so called farmers’ who are producing nothing, then it could call into question the whole future of the CAP. The funds need to be targeted at the active producing farmers,” said Michael Flynn.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.